Paper Edition, $19.95t
Paper ISBN: 1-57233-938-1
Status: In Print
Description“Powell's world of broken dreams (and flinty dialogue) gives this eloquent little novel the feel of a 1940s detective film-noir. But instead of a private investigator trying to balance right and wrong, the characters all teeter on wrong. The true men of honor in "Prodigals" are the old men who have given up on the world. As one old-timer at the logging camp tells the boy, ‘You stick around here and one day you're gonna put your nose down to your chest and it ain't gonna be your clothes that are rotting. It's gonna be you. From now on it comes from the inside out.’” —Southern Currents
“A haunting, evocative novel. In Prodigals, Mark Powell depicts a lost American landscape—the small towns and logging camps of the South during World War II, with their subculture of fugitives and transients. I can't get the desperate hero out of my mind.” —Cary Holladay, author of Mercury
In the late summer of 1944, fifteen-year-old Ernest Cobb flees into the dense forests of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Behind him, in his South Carolina hometown, the girl he thought he had impregnated is being buried. Her shooting death was not Ernest’s doing, but Ernest fears that he will be implicated in it anyway. With little sense of where he is going or how he might survive, the boy makes his way northward.
Ernest’s journey brings him into the company of outsiders and drifters—an often violent subculture at the tattered fringes of wartime America. An aging mountain hermit, who was once a glassblower, rescues Ernest from the wilderness and nurtures him for a while. Eventually, Ernest finds himself in Asheville, North Carolina, where he goes to work as a dishwasher and rents a dingy room that he soon shares with a new girlfriend. When that relationship falters, Ernest accompanies an amiable but reckless friend, a boy called June Bug, to work at a logging camp. There they meet Jimmy Morgan, a wounded war veteran with his own dark secret. The convergence of these lost souls and their chance discovery of an injured child lead to further tragedy. By the end, the once-naive Ernest has begun to comprehend the gaping loneliness that defines much of human existence, but he has also come to sense the possibility of transcendence in the fleeting connections born of love.
With Prodigals, Mark Powell makes an impressive fiction debut. The author’s keen ear for dialogue, his understanding of character and motive, and his lean, taut language will make this novel linger long in the minds of readers.
MARK POWELL lives in Mountain Rest, South Carolina. He studied creative writing at the University of South Carolina.
From My Highest Hill (Paper)
Cassandra Singing (Paper)